Michigan school board questions sportsmanship in record-setting soccer match

Sports

Benzie Central’s Kevin Hubbell controls the ball during a high school soccer game against Traverse City Christian at the Keystone Soccer Complex in Traverse City, Mich., on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. Hubbell set Michigan and national records with 16 goals against winless Kingsley High School on Sept. 29, 2021. The Kingsley school board plans to send a letter to the Benzie Central school board over what it considers to be a lack of sportsmanship against its young, overmatched team. (Mike Krebs/Traverse City Record-Eagle via AP)

KINGSLEY, Mich. (AP) — A school board in northern Michigan plans to send a letter of protest over sportsmanship following a soccer player’s record-setting 16 goals against a winless team.

The backlash over Kevin Hubbell’s performance continued Monday night at a meeting of the Kingsley school board, Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. Board members showed support for sending the letter to the Benzie Central school board.

Hubbell is one of the best players in Michigan. He scored 16 goals in a 17-0 victory by the Benzie Central Huskies over the Kingsley Stags, setting state and national records.

Kingsley Superintendent Keith Smith said it was a “cheap shot” against a young team.

The Stags have had a rough season: They were 0-15 after another loss last week, according to a summary of game results shared by the Record-Eagle.

“To go after a personal record like that at the cost of another team’s dignity was a little uncalled for,” Kingsley coach Tim VanWingerden said. “Soccer is not the right place for that. Soccer is a gentleman’s sport.”

Hubbell and Benzie Central coach Chris Batchelder knew the records were possible and discussed them during the game.

“We are in a society where negative speaks before positive,” Batchelder said. “I knew everyone wouldn’t agree when he broke the record. I knew there’d be some people upset with it.”

If there’s any criticism, he said it should be directed at him, not his player.

“I want this to stop, and I want to get back to appreciating soccer,” Batchelder said. “All that noise is just noise.”

Hubbell figures his 16 goals will be surpassed at some point.

“That’s going to be pretty incredible,” he said. “I just hope it doesn’t happen too soon.”

According to the Record-Eagle, Smith and the Kingsley athletic director will draft the letter of protest in time for the board to review it at the November meeting.

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